Let’s face it. We all have them. Favorite Sins. No, I know none of us would really classify them that way. We don’t like our sins. We’re trying to overcome them. We’re trying to get rid of them. But there are the sins we seem to subconsciously turn to when the going gets tough. We’ve said over and over again that we wouldn’t do them again, but then things get hectic and crazy and the next thing we know we did it again. Been there? I have.
Whether your favorite sin is alcohol, gluttony, drugs, arrogance, pride, materialism, lusting, fornication, gossip, bragging, slander, lying, hypocrisy, or whatever, despite your intense desire to quit, when life gets crazy, sin becomes inviting. There is that little part of us that says our favorite sin might be the answer. It will be the one thing that can make sense out of the craziness, calm things down, and get things back to right.
That, of course, isn’t true. But it is what the father of lies will tell us. But in this whole description is some help for overcoming. What we need to do is work to keep things from getting crazy. Let’s back up and ask what is going on in our lives when we are feeling that kind of craziness. Are there actions or attitudes that creep into our lives signalling that little bit of craziness that makes our favorite sin attractive is sneaking into our heads and hearts? Once we figure those out and start monitoring our days for them, and getting rid of them as they creep up, we will be fighting against our sin even before the actual temptation to sin hits us.
With that in mind, I want to share with you some tools I developed. I don’t mean I developed the concepts. I just developed some Excel spreadsheets based on some things I read.
This may be shocking to some, but I have really received a lot of help in my own fight against all kinds of sins from 12-Step group literature. Yes, those set of Anonymous support groups that were inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous. You don’t have to agree with everything they stand for to discover that some truly legitimate help and good is coming out of some of those programs. I highly recommend at least exploring some literature that comes from those groups and goes along with their ideology. With that in mind, while reading some of that literature I heard about something called a Personal Craziness Index in Patrick Carnes’s book A Gentle Path through the Twelve Steps, a book used by some 12-steppers to help them work through the steps.
Personal Craziness Index
The idea was to examine your life in all kinds of facets whether social, relational, financial, emotional, job, environment, mental, etc. Think back on the times you were having the hardest time fighting your favorite sin. What kind of crazy things were happening in your life that helped lead to the craziness that made your favorite sin seem attractive. For instance, your favorite sin may be alcohol. Where was the craziness in your life the last time you went on a bender? Was it a financial craziness? Did you quit balancing your checkbook, quit making your budget, start bouncing checks? Or maybe the craziness shows up in your relationships. Did you find yourself yelling at your spouse, isolating from your spouse, or getting passive-aggressive with your spouse? Or maybe both of those things is an indicator of craziness in your life.
Take a look at the different facets of your life and make a list of the things that go on when you are getting “crazy.” It may be as simple as clutter in the bedroom. Throwing your clothes on the floor and not picking them up may be a sign that you are getting to an unhealthy spot and life is getting out of hand. It may be as complex as starting to be controlling or manipulative to get people to do what you want. It may be something physical like slamming doors, verbal like yelling, behavioral like being chronically late, or spiritual like avoiding prayer. Make the list and then pick the top seven. Plug them into the appropriate spot on the spreadsheet.
Each night, review the day. Add up how many of the things you have done (or not done as the case may be) and give each one a value of 1. Input your score for that day in the appropriate spot at the top of the spreadsheet. Give yourself a 7 for any day that you don’t even do your PCI. If you are avoiding the index after you’ve committed to doing it, you’ve got craziness going on. Also, if you actually commit the sin you are working to avoid, give yourself a 7. Obviously, if you’re committing the sin, you’ve got the craziness going on.
At the end of the week, total your score and mark it on the scale. Do this for 12 weeks. You will begin to see a picture of your craziness and it will help you monitor what kind of craziness you are putting into your life. It will help you look at where you need to work to nip things in the bud.
No, this isn’t foolproof. You may be marking low scores but still having huge struggles. That just means you need to dig deeper. But this has been a big help to me. Thought I’d share. Click the link below to download the Excel spreadsheet for free.
Personal Serenity Index
The opposite of the craziness is serenity. When my life is serene, calm, peaceful, I have a much easier time fighting temptation. In fact, I seem to be tempted a lot less. So as I was working on my PCI one day, I thought about doing the same thing but on the opposite end of the spectrum. What kinds of things am I doing consistently when I feel the most serenity?
Again, this could be in all kinds of aspects of life. Some of the things on my list are prayer, getting my daily tasks accomplished, meditation, calling accountability partners, stretching or exercise, etc. Yours may include getting a set number of hours of sleep, eating a certain diet, going to a certain place, accomplishing a specific task. It may be as simple as telling everyone in your family, “I love you,” today. It may be more complex like giving yourself an extra 15 minutes to get everywhere you want to go. It may be avoiding something like certain tv shows (or tv altogether) or adding something in like making sure to listen to certain kind of music.
Take a look at the times you have had the most serenity. What things were you doing that contributed to that? Make a list. Then put the top 7 into the spreadsheet. At the end of each day, review your day to see how many of them you actually accomplished. Give each one a point value of 1, add them up, and record your score on the appropriate day at the top of the spreadsheet. At the end of the week, add your scores together and see where you rate. Do this for 12 weeks to see how it impacts you.
No, this isn’t foolproof either. You may be giving yourself high marks, but still having huge struggles. Again, that just means you need to dig deeper. But this has also been a big help to me. Thought I’d share. Click the link below to download the Excel spreadsheet for free.
Enjoy the Tools
I know we’re all walking this journey and we all need all the help we can get. I hope these tools can be a great help to you. If they are, make sure to let others know about them.